Beethoven: Diabelli Variations

Fri, Jan 17, 2014, 00:00


Beethoven Diabelli Variations

András Schiff

ECM New Series


A set of two performances of the Diabelli Variations by the one performer? Edmund Battersby on Naxos used a copy of an 1825 fortepiano and modern Steinway concert grand. András Schiff has chosen an 1820-ish fortepiano by Franz Brodmann, an original not a copy, and a 1921 Bechstein that was used by Wilhelm Backhaus in concerts and recordings. Both are quite different in sound to a modern Steinway, less thick and bulky in tone in ways that allow Schiff’s playing to seem unusually lithe. And Schiff’s management of the sound world facilitates the fantasy and wit of the music as well as its breathtaking chutzpah in the way it takes Diabelli’s trivial theme through complex transmogrifications. A must for anyone seriously interested in the piano or the Diabellis.